At only 17 years old, Cassandra Callender from Windsor Locks, Conn., was diagnosed with stage 3 or 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The teenager refused chemo because she was afraid of the long-term side effects like organ damage and infertility, and decided to seek help in alternative medicine.
Yet, she was forced to undergo chemo by the state of Connecticut against her and her mother’s will and on top of that the case was reported as child abuse to the Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF), who took her case to the state Superior Court.
The court ruled that she was too young to decide about her own health, and forced her into getting chemotherapy, but after the second round of chemotherapy she ran away from home. The state took another action and removed the mother’s custody over her and gave it to DFC. From then on they were making decision for her and hospitalized Cassandra against her will.
“Whether I live 17 years or 100 years should not be anyone’s choice but mine. How long is a person actually supposed to live, and why? Who determines that? I care about the quality of my life, not just the quantity,” said Cassandra.
But, as a minor her decision wasn’t taken into account and it was up to DFC to decide in her name.
“When experts — such as the several physicians involved in this case — tell us with certainty that a child will die as a result of leaving a decision up to a parent, then the Department has a responsibility to take action,” DCF said in a statement.
Even though she was promised that the therapy has 85-90% success rate, after being in remission, the cancer came back.
“Here is my ‘85% chance’ of life after chemo. Unfortunately I didn’t make the 85% I fell into the 15%,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
After turning 18 and being legally allowed to make her own decisions, she announced that she will move forward with alternative treatments.
“From the beginning, the department has been guided by the medical experts’ judgment about what would be in Cassandra’s best interest. Cassandra’s health and well-being remain in the forefront of our thoughts and our hopes for her full recovery,” stated the DCF.
She has created a GoFundMe page to raise money for alternative treatments and to hire an attorney to fight her case.